New book on John Wayne

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    There are 10 replies in this Thread. The last Post () by may2.

    • New book on John Wayne


      I just wanted to let the community here know that I just published a new book on the Duke called John Wayne's World. The book examines Wayne's popularity around the world in the 1950s, asking why so many different cultures loved the Duke and what his popularity tells us about Hollywood and globalization in the 1950s. I talk about a lot of the major releases between Red River and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, but I also discuss some of the lesser known works that Wayne shot abroad (The Barbarian and the Geisha (shot in Japan) and Legend of the Lost (shot in Italy and north Africa)). It's an academic book, so it is written primarily for other historians of cinema and the 1950s, but I'd like to think that is would be enjoyable for a general audience too, especially Wayne fans!

      If anyone takes a look at it, I'd love to hear what other Wayne fans have to say about it. I'm a film historian at the University of Idaho, but I'm very interested in popular pleasures--why certain kinds of movies or stars become so important to a culture.

    • Re: New book on John Wayne

      Russell, Many thanks for this fantastic update, and may I congratulate you on your fabulous work,
      which I feel sure will make the most interesting and informative reading.

      I have now included it here
      Duke's Books-Part One
      Best Wishes
      London- England
    • Re: New book on John Wayne

      Hello Russell and welcome to the JWMB! Your book looks very interesting and I hope to pick up a copy soon. Of course, without reading the book first, I cannot really comment on it, however, I did read the brief review on the University of Texas Press website and one of the statements really jumped out at me. It said, “Meeuf concludes that, in his later films, Wayne’s star text shifted to one of grandfatherly nostalgia for the past, as his earlier brand of heroic masculinity became incompatible with the changing world of the 1960s and 1970s.” I am not sure that the statement “...his earlier brand of heroic masculinity became incompatible with the changing world of the 1960's and 1970's” is truly accurate. I realize that during that time, as now, there are many who believe that, but I think there are even more who believe that Duke's brand of “heroic masculinity” are very compatible with the society of the 1960's through today. In fact, I would go so far to say that they believe his brand of “heroic masculinity” is exactly what our society needs today and can only benefit from. Just my opinion of course, but I think it fairly accurate. At any rate, I do look forward to picking up a copy of your book and reading it. I am convinced I will enjoy it!
      "I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted, and I won't be laid a hand on. I don't do these things to other people and I require the same from them" It may be time worn, but it's the best life-creed I know.
    • Re: New book on John Wayne

      Russell Meeuf is a faculty member at the University of Idaho. Articles he has written about John Wayne are available online and I think they give us a good idea of what his new book, John Wayne's World, will be like. It is very obvious from these articles that Professor Meeuf is a big John Wayne fan. There is nothing in these articles that "deface" John Wayne, either as a person or actor. Professor Meeuf writes very admiringly of the Wayne persona. But being an academic whose life work is to analyze, explore and explain, he is also curious about how John Wayne is received, not just in the United States, but around the world, and what his image meant for audiences outside the United States especially at a time when the United States was such a dominant force in the post-World War II era.

      I should add that since he is an academic, he writes in academic jargon that will probably be hard going for the lay reader.

      I just ordered a copy of John Wayne's World and I'm looking forward to reading it, though as a lay reader myself I will probably have to puzzle out a good deal of the text. ;)
    • Re: New book on John Wayne

      Nicely put Paula, I think this has the potential to be a very interesting look at the Duke and his legacy and why he's still so popular after all these years is a discussion I often have with people and enjoy having. I'm also curious to see how the Duke legend continues over my lifetime as his first generation fans continue to pass on. By the time I reach old age in 40 or so years I wonder will the Duke's legend still prevail the way it does today or whether i'll be a lone fan nearly 100 years out of date.
    • Re: New book on John Wayne

      I was only able to find two essays by Meeuf online that concerned John Wayne. I read them (and actually downloaded them as well). Both were well written and not difficult at all to understand. I don't think he is out to deface John Wayne's image at all, and I do believe he is a John Wayne fan as well. That being said, however, I also think that he does have a tendency (as do most intelligentsia of today) to lean towards a deconstructing of what they view as modern mythology. Not necessarily a bad tendency though, depending upon where John Wayne lies on ones scale of popularity. I think most of the intellectuals of today tend to think that the vast majority of John Wayne fans have elevated him to the status of god, and those intellectuals feel it necessary to knock him down a few pegs in the eyes of those particular types of fans, so they can see that he is, after all, just a man. From that aspect, I have no problem with what they are doing (including Meeuf, if that is what he is doing), because that is exactly what John Wayne was - just a man. However, it is my experience that the majority of John Wayne fans do not view the Duke that way. They simply enjoy his films, his sense of humor and his philosophies. In other words, most of the intellectuals not only do not understand John Wayne, they also do not understand his fans. Because of this, they have a tendency to misinterpret the life and career of John Wayne, and thus really hammer away at his legacy, his body of work, and those human frailties that are so common to all of us and in doing so they come across as elitist bullies (which some of them actually are). Prime examples of this are Garry Wills and Douglas Jensen.

      I don't know if Russell Meeuf falls into this category or not, although I suspect he does not. After reading the two articles I was able to find by him concerning John Wayne, I found one of them ("Shouldering the Weight of the World: The Sensational and Global Appeal of John Wayne's Body") somewhat troubling as he came across (at least to me) as having some, um, well, "underlying tendencies" that I would not agree with, and those tendencies seem to permeate the article. The other article ("John Wayne as Supercrip: Disabled Bodies and the Construction of Hard Masculinity in Wings of Eagles") also exhibited those same tendencies, but to a lesser degree, thus making that article more enjoyable to read. All in all, I still have to stick to my previous statements regarding "heroic masculinity," but the proviso that they are based solely on a review of his book rather than the book itself. Once I read his book (which I intend to do and look forward to doing) those statements may very well change. I won't condemn his book outright, nor praise it unconditionally until I have read it through.
      "I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted, and I won't be laid a hand on. I don't do these things to other people and I require the same from them" It may be time worn, but it's the best life-creed I know.

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